Chili Cheese Tater Tots at Crif Dogs


[Photograph: Rabi Abonour]

When it comes to tater tots, I'm a believer in keeping it classy. Obviously, this means enjoying your tots surrounded by retro arcade games, pin-up girls riding hot dogs and plenty of unnaturally yellow cheese sauce. Crif Dogs, known for its hangover-curing hot dogs, offers exactly that, and puts its greasy magic to work with Chili Cheese Tater Tots ($3.50).

Nestled in a tin foil cradle, the tots are your average frozen kind, but a lengthy dip in the deep fryer gives them the structural integrity to hold up to the cheese and chili and maintain the tot's desired crunchy exterior. Rather than smothering them until they're unrecognizable, Crif Dogs tops the tots with enough chili and cheese to coat each bite without drowning the potato flavor.

The chili is mild, slightly sweet, and tomato-y, and the cheese sauce is, well, yellow in all its processed glory. If you like spice, ask for jalapenos. Rather than slicing the pepper, the kitchen serves it finely chopped, which makes for easier eating.